Posted in Media, Montreal

Marcel Côté’s fake Montrealers

UPDATE 3:45pm: The website has removed its stock photos of people.

Three kids from a Ukrainian stock photo show off a grammatically incorrect promise

Three kids from a Ukrainian stock photo show off a grammatically incorrect promise

Stock photos aren’t a cardinal sin. In most cases their use is obvious, and it makes sense to spend a couple of bucks on a stock image rather than hundreds of dollars setting up a professional photo shoot.

But in most cases stock photos are unnecessary. We don’t need the smiling faces of strangers to inform us of things. And worse, they may give the false impression that these are real people who support a political cause.

Marcel Côté launched his mayoral campaign this morning, and his website was filled with stock photos. There was this one from a photographer in Ukraine. This one from a photographer in Malaysia. This one from a photographer in Colombia. This one from a photographer in Hungary. This one from a photographer in Italy. And this one from a photographer in Germany.

And this image, with the filename “groupe-montrealais.jpg” and the caption “We Are All Montrealers”. It was edited from this stock photo from Ukraine to add a sixth panel because Marcel’s name has one more letter than the stock photo was designed for. (You can see the panel on the end is actually the third one being copied and badly edited.)

I haven’t contacted these photographers to determine where the photos were taken and the nationality of the models, but I’m willing to bet that none of these people are Montrealers.

Sure enough, all the photos are now gone from the site. Apparently “once we realized where the photos came from, we took them down,” the press attaché told CBC Montreal researcher Sarah Leavitt. Which is an odd thing to say because it means they put up a bunch of pictures not knowing their source.

The site’s designer, Vasco Design (is this really a website design they want to be associated with?) has a habit of using cheesy stock photos on websites it creates.

You might recall that Louise Harel, who abandoned her own run for mayor to support Côté, had similarly used stock photos on her website during the 2009 campaign.

19 thoughts on “Marcel Côté’s fake Montrealers

  1. Noah

    Does it really matter? I mean, I like making fun of silly things like this too (including the grammar errors)… but in the grand scheme, does it really matter if they use stock photos? I don’t think so.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      in the grand scheme, does it really matter if they use stock photos?

      There are a few issues here.

      1. The use of these images might give some people the false impression that these are Côté’s supporters (particularly the one, since removed, in which a group of people hold up signs that spell out his name). I find the use of stock photos on political websites to be at best misleading.
      2. The stock photos are entirely unnecessary.
      3. The fact that one of the photos was digitally manipulated raises ethical issues. Minor ones, perhaps even banal, but still.
      4. Issues with the website’s poor design reflect on the designer, which in turn reflect on Côté’s management (or his campaign’s management, which in turn reflects on him). How Côté runs his campaign, including such silly things as his choice of web designer, reflects how he would run the city.

      I’m not demanding his resignation, or saying there should be a police inquiry or anything ridiculous like that. But I’m not a fan of using stock photos in this context.

      Reply
      1. Steve grownin

        Honestly, you bring interesting questions, but at the end of the day…it should not influence what we think of the candidate. Not everyone has to be tech savy and know everything about what makes a great website. This is not a reason to vote or not for someone.

        You know how to create viral content, you proved it. But at the end of the day, this article is just for entertainment, the exact same way Lacliqueduplateau analyze the world on a daily basis. Let’s just be honest here.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Honestly, you bring interesting questions, but at the end of the day…it should not influence what we think of the candidate.

          That’s up to you, of course.

          Not everyone has to be tech savy and know everything about what makes a great website.

          No. But certainly the people you hire to design your website should be pretty tech savvy, no?

          at the end of the day, this article is just for entertainment

          I’m not itching for a Pulitzer here. But I don’t think it’s a non-issue either. I think this is a case of abuse of stock images, and the fact that the website pulled them seems to back that position.

          Reply
  2. AnybodyButCoderre

    The website host (http://www.openface.ca/fr/home/index.ch2) is similarly cheap, and clearly doesn’t speak French : “a été un leader depuis 1996″ ???? Had been a leader? Nice to know they’re not a leader anymore…

    I’m always amazed when I see companies in the marketing / web business that seem stuck a decade behind. But then, clients that unsavvy probably don’t deserve better, so it evens out I guess.

    It’s not like it matters anyway, mayoral races are won in targeted communities (churches, ethnic cultural assos, business groups, etc), not on the internet. Marcel Côté shouldn’t worry to much, IMHO.

    Reply
      1. plam

        I know that 15 years ago OpenFace had a lot of McGill Computer Science student types working there. I think they are actually a Montreal company, although perhaps staffed by imported anglos.

        Reply
  3. Allison Cicchetti

    Ha! Stock photos have disappeared from the site. They should thank you for the spike in their traffic today.

    Reply
  4. Stanley

    Seriously? What a complete non story. Who cares? Advertising is fake. Who knew?

    With all the crap this city has taken in the last few years and how it is basically the laughing stock of the world, how is this even on anyone’s radar?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Seriously? What a complete non story. Who cares? Advertising is fake. Who knew?

      So we shouldn’t report false advertising anymore because everyone does it? That seems like an odd way of doing things.

      Reply
  5. Shirley

    What exactly is false about it? There is no claim to anything. Just a picture of three happy teenagers who can’t vote anyway.

    The copy on the other hand is amateur

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      What exactly is false about it?

      You mean besides the photo that was doctored so it showed people holding up signs that spelled out “MARCEL”?

      Reply
  6. Ken McMurray

    Any idea who is the press flak for Marcel Cote? This name seems to be missing from all accounts.

    Reply
  7. Natalia W

    Ahahhahahhahahha! I laughed real hard, thank you for this one.

    Stock image photos use in political campaigns us wrong. But nice corporate touch, M. Côté :D

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>